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Auction Coverage Overflow: Worldwide’s 2017 Pacific Grove Sale – 1974 VW Thing

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1974 Volkswagen Thing Acapulco Edition; image by the author.

When covering auctions for our print publications, a simple rule of thumb–that we do our best to adhere to–is to review a few extra vehicular lots. It’s good practice, since one never knows if a lot is going to be withdrawn at the last minute, or–worse–we forgot to snag a photo of the car we just examined, only to discover that error when we return to the office. Which means that by the time our more detailed coverage is readied for print, we end up with a few on the proverbial cutting-room floor. It doesn’t mean they are any less interesting, we simply ran out of space, so we’ll present a few of them here.

Regular readers of our Hemmings Motor News magazine will begin to see in-depth auction action–from Monterey’s 2017 Meet Week–in our January 2018 issue featuring coverage from Worldwide Auctioneers. This was the firm’s inaugural event during Meet Week; a one-day sale held on the evening of August 17 at the Pacific Grove Golf Links in Pacific Grove, which is a quaint community on the north shore of the Monterey Peninsula. Worldwide’s diverse catalog featured 74 vintage motorcycles and vehicular lots, 70 percent of which were sold to new owners for a sales total of just under $7.5 million. One of the vehicular lots that crossed the block was the car pictured above: a 1974 Volkswagen Thing Acapulco Edition.

Details presented to bidders via Worldwide’s print catalog, in part, were as follows:

Built by Volkswagen from 1968-1983 it actually carried several names and was sold as the Kurierwagen in West Germany, the Trekker in the United Kingdon, the Safari in Mexico and South America, and Pescaccia in Italy. … In 1974, Volkswagen decided to have a little fun with the Thing while also filling a small market niche that made the Fiat Jolly a marvel. Dubbed the Acapulco Edition, it was built from May through July 1974 and production amounted to just around 400 of these island treasures. … Featured here is an excellent example of this most iconic car that has received a full pan-off restoration that has returned it to “like-new” condition. it’s brilliant exterior is a DuPont basecoat/clear coat that gives it a perfect shine. All upholstery is new and nicely complements its new paint. The signature surrey top brings the whole package together, and a freshly rebuilt motor provides excellence and reliability for which Volkswagen is known. All fuel lines and brakes have been replaced and the entire pan was finished in a durable Rhino lining for durability.

For those who may be unaware, the aforementioned engine was a four-cylinder that was rated for 46 hp. It was backed by a four-speed manual transmission. Offered without reserve, the presale estimate ranged from $25,000 to $50,000. Like a number of bidders, we had ample time to review the blue-and-white two-tone Thing during the preview hours. Visually striking for a number of reasons, we immediately noted that whomever commissioned its restoration opted to do so–as advertised–to factory-new condition. In other words, Rhino treatment aside, we spotted no aftermarket modifications to either the exposed cabin or the exterior. There were no issues with the trim, the paint was even and refreshingly smooth (no orange peel), and the interior upholstery and top looked as though they had not seen any kind of harsh (wet or dry) weather. Only the super-discerning might have noticed a few small nits, such as some screws covered with paint; others not. We gave it a condition #1- rating that, according to our resources, translates to an approximate value of $35,000. Under the stage lights, a winning bid of $35,750 was realized, making this Thing one of 13 lots that found new owners for less than $50,000.

Be sure to check out the aforementioned January 2018 issue of Hemmings Motor News for 24 additional lots, as well as another handful of featured lots in an upcoming issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines